Char Dham Yatra is India’s most devoted and featured part of India spiritual tour and is collectively known as the Chota Char Dham Yatra (small four abodes). Char Dham is also the most renowned and holy expedition in India that includes visiting to four glorious shrines including Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and lastly the Badrinath Dham. The Char Dham Yatra is traditionally always done clockwise, from west to east, starting from Yamunotri then proceeding to Gangotri before moving on towards Kedarnath and finally concluding at Badrinath. Devotees starts there journey to visit Mata Yamuna and then to Mata Ganga. The pious holy water brought from previous dhams has been poured (Jalabhishek) to Kedarnath and in the ends completes the Char Dham Yatra after visiting Badrinath. Badrinath is the most popular pilgrim among the four pilgrimages. Badrinath dham is also included in Char Dham, originally used to refer to a pilgrimage circuit encompassing four holiest sites which were located at four directions of India – Badrinath, Puri, Rameshwaram and Dwarka.
In Hindu religion, the Char Dham Yatrahas a great importance, and it is considered that every Hindu should do Chard hamyatra at least once in a lifetime. Reachable, until recent times only after a two-month trek, which lengthily exceeds an altitude of 4000 meters, the Chota Char Dham was long captivated by tour enthusiasts and religious professionals, along with a small number of devoted retirees and wealthy patrons. Uneven route makes tracking somewhere easy whereas somewhere difficult.
After the 1962 war between India and China, accessibility to the Chota Char Dham improved, as India undertook massive road building to border area and other infrastructure investments. As pilgrims were able to travel in mini buses, jeeps and cars to nearest points of four shrines, the Chota Char dham circuit was within the reach of people with middle income. Later the word “Chota” has been removed from the Char DahamYatra regarding further confusion and is referred as Himalaya’s Char Dham.
Char Dham Yatra is one the most popular pilgrimage route, with millions of devotees paying homage to all these religious places in aspiration of eliminates all sins and to attain salvation by the blessings of the Lord. Every year more than 250,000 pilgrims visit Chardham from various parts of India. Theseason is heaviest in the two-month period before the Monsoon, which normally comes in late July. After the rains begin, travel to the sites becomes extremely dangerous.
It is believed that the Pandavas came here to offer their penance to Lord Shiva for killing their cousins Kauravas in the battle of Mahabharata. They came to Uttarakhand for pilgrimage and first moved to Yamunotri, Gangotri and then heading towards Kedarnath-Badrinathji.
Covering four sacred destinations in the state of Uttarakhand, namely, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, the holy journey to the Char Dham is not only about attaining Moksha but also as much about realizing the essential role of nature in our lives. Cleansed of your sins, you return home a transformed and wiser person. With regard to the location it is also said that this is the spot which drab the earth and heaven.
One of the worst flash floods happened in June 2013 and it heavily devastated many parts of the Chota Char Dham but it does not affect the importance of these pilgrims. As a result the number of devotees is going to increase every year.